I don’t belong to the Interbellum Generation and I am not part of the Silent Generation. I can’t be counted as one of the Baby Boomers and I don’t consider myself part of Generation X. I’m not a Millennial nor one of Generation Z.
My parents were Holocaust survivors and I was born not so long after WW II. I would call Jews born shortly after WW II, especially from parents who were from Nazi Germany-occupied lands, the Replacement Generation. Not that it was possible to replace anyone.
The Holocaust Generation is dying out; the Replacement Generation is going on pension. Retirement is the time to look back, for those who made it so far.
Many of us spent a good deal of time in therapy; even more of us, it seems, never. When pressure to perform in society wanes, worries and hurts may come up. Problems swept under the rug are still there.
Many of us need to look back on life-long troublesome relationships and lack of peace and fun.
Our parents, with all the war traumas, seem to have done better than us. Is that strange? First of all, their youth was often stress-free. After the War, they worked hard, ignored their distress as much as possible and then they died. They were heroes. But we, we were steeped in the Holocaust before we could walk or talk. That’s not an easy start in life.
The horrors of the Holocaust were behind us — time for a carefree generation. “You weren’t there, you haven’t suffered,” we were told. Wishful thinking — more wishful than thinking.
Anti-Jewish feelings around us were denied — who wanted to be called a Nazi? It became unclear why many of us felt uneasy about revealing our Jewishness. The old biases against Jews went underground. Jews came to feel nervous about being Jewish; Gentiles became super-uncomfortable about having Jews around them.
Jews became a category of oppressed people, who needed to be helped and pitied – and to be whispered about.
Our brave parents, ready to start all over, with the best of intentions, could not help putting their hopes on us. These were often high but not relaxed expectations. We may easily be as tough on ourselves and judge ourselves as malfunctioning. A promising life unfulfilled and ruined by incompetence. Part of such an analysis may be from true failure; another part may stem from trouble to be mild and unassuming about ourselves.
Social workers should be aware of members of the Replacement Generation going on pension and needing help to cope with life, which for many in the West can easily last another one or two generations.